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‘Two loud bangs’ wake residents as charity van torched

PUBLISHED: 08:17 22 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:17 22 July 2020

A van belonging to the Benjamin Foundation charity was gutted by fire in Holt. Picture: Benjamin Foundation

A van belonging to the Benjamin Foundation charity was gutted by fire in Holt. Picture: Benjamin Foundation

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A charity van was totally destroyed by fire in a suspected arson attack in a Norfolk town.

Erin and Lucy enjoying the Benjamin Foundation family fun day, celebrating 25 years of the charity in 2019. Picture: Ella WilkinsonErin and Lucy enjoying the Benjamin Foundation family fun day, celebrating 25 years of the charity in 2019. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

The van belonging to Norfolk-based charity the Benjamin Foundation was targeted overnight on Monday, July 20.

The charity, which sells used furniture to raise income to support local people, has expressed shock and sadness at the fire, which happened near its furniture store in Holt.

It has recently re-opened its Norfolk furniture stores following their forced closure for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity’s interim chief operating officer Kirsty Pitcher said: “We are shocked by the loss of the van, which helped our charity to provide a service to the community, while raising valuable funds to support our work. Like many charities, we are coming to terms with the financial impact of the pandemic and re-opening our furniture stores was a huge step forward.

“We’re saddened and concerned by the loss of the van, which enabled us to carry out furniture deliveries and collections in Holt and surrounding areas.”

She said they did not know how much it would cost to replace the van, but they believed it was a deliberate act.

The store on the Hempstead Road industrial estate remains open.

The charity works to prevent youth homelessness and supports about 2,000 people every year in the region.

Based in St Andrew’s Street, Norwich, it celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.

People in Holt said on Facebook that they heard bangs in the early hours.

One user said: “Was it just me, or anyone else in the Hempstead Road area get woken by a couple of loud bangs 2am this morning?”

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service station manager John Baker said: “Two appliances attended the scene in the early hours of Tuesday morning where a van was found to be fully alight. We managed to extinguish the fire within 15 minutes using breathing apparatus and hose reel jets. A car parked next to the van was damaged by the heat as were neighbouring buildings. Thermal imaging cameras were used to check for hot spots to ensure there were no further risks. An investigation is ongoing.”


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